Tuesday, July 3, 2012

'Twas the night before the Fourth...

Woke up this morning with a song stuck in my head. I don't actually know the name of it; it's one we sang in our 6th grade Bicentennial extravaganza, Patriots on Parade. I suppose it's fitting, since the first line of the song is the title of today's post, but really. It's been more than 30 years. Why do I even remember it? Probably for the same reason I still remember all the dance steps to I Am Woman from the same play. And the name of the play, for that matter.

On vacation this week, and so far it's been excellent. Got some knitting & reading done on Saturday, as well as fixed the sprinkler and tidied up the front porch (sweeping, trimming the wisteria, etc). Sunday we went to see Brave followed by dinner at the pub. Yesterday we went to the Getty Villa and toured the gardens (photo in today's post is of one of the ponds there), had dinner at our favorite Mexican place, and baked a batch of brownies. This morning we did a bit of pruning & weeding in the backyard. Ralph cut two large branches off our poor overloaded lemon tree. I picked about four dozen lemons off the cut branches & have them in bowls out front with a 'free lemons' sign; there are still plenty more should those all get taken. Shockingly, I even remembered that today is Tuesday in time to move the cars to the other side of the street before the street sweepers come.

Last month was a big event in the life of our friend SS. After three years of seminary, she was made deacon in her church. You can tell by the smile on her face how proud & happy she is. She did have a bit of an irreverent moment, though. At one part in the ritual, the three officiants were to prostrate themselves on the floor while the bishop spoke of the spirit of Christ coming to them & filling them. SS told us that at this point she thought, "Odd--I didn't know the Holy Spirit smelled like floor polish..."

The Ravellenic Games are coming up. These were formerly called the Ravelympics, but some of you may be aware of the brouhaha over that. If not, just do a Google search for "USOC Knitting" and read a few of the stories that come up. This year I'm actually co-captaining a team: I am the First Mate of Team Pissdrunk, representing the Simply Nonsense for the Sake of Fun group. I've changed my Ravatar for the games; I've posted it here. The original image is from the blog Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosch, and can be found at the end of this post (which is pretty funny and I highly recommend reading it): http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/09/party.html Most of the team have Jack Sparrow Ravatars, but I'd made mine before realizing that JS was traditional & liked it too much to change it.

Anyway, this year I've got four projects planned: socks (sock put, single skein sprint, and lace longjump); a lamb (toy toss); a shawl (shawl sailing, lace longjump, and balance beads if I decide to do the beaded version of the pattern) and finishing up the sweater I started two years ago (WIP [work in progress] wrestling). I was only going to do three because I was sure I could finish them in the amount of time allotted, but figured if I *knew* I could finish, it wasn't really a challenge, was it?

Had a nice picnic for Father's Day (or as we call it in my family, Fathead's Day). Quite a few of us there: myself & Ralph, Lizard, Duh & Happy, and my friend Termite, who was a surprise guest for my Dad, who hasn't seen her in years. Plenty of good food & good conversation, and of course my camera battery died as soon as I tried to take a picture :-/ Ah, well.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Don't faint; I'm posting something.

Hmm, now that hasn't happened in a while; I actually remembered my password to Blogger. Of course, when you post once a month or less, forgetting the password isn't exactly unexpected. Today's first pic is a swainson's thrush. This guy knocked himself silly against our window last month. When it was obvious he was on his way to recovery I took a few pictures (it seemed a bit morbid to do so when I wasn't sure he would live or not. "Hey, look at this photo I took of a dying bird.") This one came out the best. All the dust & dog hair on him is from his collision with the screen. He flew away a few minutes after this was taken. The second pic is the tote bag I'm working on. It's the same pattern I used last time (Mrs. Weasley's Bag of Stitch Witchery) only I'm using three colors instead of four, and as my long-time readers will notice it's in a much more subtle color theme as well. It's almost done; all the knitting is finished and I've bought the necessary items for the lining & handles. Now I just need to suck it up and do the sewing part. Sorry about the poor staging of the bag. I realized it was all crumpled after I took the picture, and for some reason my camera decided not to recognize the card on the next three I took & the pictures didn't come out at all. Guess I'll have to reformat the card. Missed out on an impromptu class reunion last night--30 years to the day since graduation. Funny, it doesn't seem that long ago, but I guess everyone says that when their 30th comes around. By the time I found out about it, it was already close to 8:30 pm & far too late for me to be getting ready to go out for the evening. Ah, well, maybe there'll be another get-together in the not-too-distant future and I'll be able to attend that one. Work is tremendously busy right now, with fiscal year end fast approaching and closings coming thick & fast. Normally we've got between 10 & 20 closings in a month, compared to May with 80 closings and June with approximately 30 already done and another 85 or thereabouts to go. Things will slow considerably in July, of course. I'm taking some vacation time the first week of July--I'm gonna need it! No plans to go anywhere, just going to crash at home with the dogs & my knitting. Had a weird thing happen while I was spinning. The strand of yarn came apart (not enough twist) which isn't *too* unusual, but what was weird is the end still attached to the bobbin completely vanished. I'm guessing it pulled apart somewhere under the top layers of wrapped yarn, but I'll be doggoned if I can find it. Rather annoying, really. The roving I bought was three pieces braided together before being space-dyed, so when you unbraided it there were three identically dyed strips. I was planning on spinning each strip separately so that when I plied the three bobbins together I'd have nice long stretches of color. However, with the end being lost I'm not going to be able to use the second bobbin, and I spun planning on a three-ply. It'll be thinner than I like if I only do two. I do have another of the braided rovings in a different colorway, but darn it I already had one strip done & well onto the next. I know, I know, first world problem. Hmm, also weird--when I preview this, all the spaces I put in between paragraphs disappear, and so did the post title. Sorry if this is hard to read--I swear I didn't type it all as one long entry.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Silver & Gold

Faire season has begun. My wheel has been quite popular; I got a lot of people stopping and asking about it, and have done some teaching with the drop spindle. I do need to get a cushion for my stool, though, as my seat bones felt rubbed raw by the end of the first day. I only spun for a couple hours today because I got sore so quickly. Ralph has been hither and yon playing music. We left a little early today because he wasn't feeling well & wanted to rest up before tomorrow, when he really needs to be there as the band he is in is going to be short a couple musicians.

Knitting-wise, I've been making juggling balls lately (see photo). Ralph wanted a set, and asked if I'd make four rather than just three, then mentioned that if he had six he could teach someone else as a Faire gig, and oh if he had nine then he could teach two people at the same time...Luckily for him he is extremely knitworthy. I've already done six & have the seventh on the needles. I got some new yarn yesterday, though (see other photo), which I'm dying to make into socks so I've really got to hunker down & finish the juggling balls. If I start the socks now I fear I may never go back & make the last couple balls. The colors of the yarn got washed out in the photo; the orange is deeper in real life, and the blue is more of a silvery grey.

Ralph also bought me some rovings at Faire today. One is blue, purple & green; the other is more rainbow colored. I think they're going to spin up into some lovely yarns. Not sure what I'll make with them once they're spun up. I'll have to wait & see how they look before deciding.

Had kind of a weird thing happen the other day. I had a sudden sunspot in my right eye, with sort of lightning jags coming down from one edge of it. Lasted for at least half an hour before starting to fade, and took several hours to go away completely. Of course I went & had it checked out as soon as possible. Turns out I've got some venal hemorrhaging going on inside my eye. The optician thinks it's related to blood pressure. I'll be seeing a medical doctor in a couple weeks to confirm (it was the first appointment I could get). It's not painful, but I do have a bit of a blurry spot in my vision which is a little annoying. Still, I was afraid it was something worse, like a retinal detachment.

On the brighter side, Ralph got a new car, a Dodge Challenger. He loves it! It's a bluish-black, or maybe a blackish-blue, and has a nice muscle-car rumble to the engine. I haven't driven it yet--I'll wait until after it gets its first scratch--but it's definitely comfortable to ride in. This is only the second new car he's ever had so as you can imagine he's quite excited.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Well, that wasn't my intent

Boy, I must have really offended one of my friends by that post on Facebook (see last month's blog entry for details). She has not only defriended me on FB, but also on Ravelry. Such a shame, as I hadn't intended to offend anyone. If you happen to still read my blog, please accept my apology.

Cold & rainy day today. I've spent most of the morning knitting; I'm working on a set of juggling balls for Ralph. I'm almost done with the "skin" of the fourth one & will be ready to sew & fill them later today. There's one each of black/red stripes, black/green, black/purple, and one that has all four colors. It's a surprisingly easy pattern & fun to knit as well.

I received my Pi Swap items on Monday. Wow! Lots of fun stuff: yarn, a brownie pie, cherry pie filling, can opener, treats for the dogs, treats for the birds, toys for the cat, wool wash and a little sheep magnet set (one magnet is the head & the other is the tail). I was amazed by the wool; look how it almost disappears in the shirt I was wearing when the box arrived. She obviously picked "me" colors.

In other news, I've bought a new spinning wheel: an Ashford Traveller. My very first double-treadle wheel! It's a dream to spin on. It came unfinished & I did all the staining myself before putting it together. Just in time for Ren Faire, too.

As usual, not much else going on. Taxes are done & we're getting a bit of a refund, yay! Comic-Con tickets sold out within hours of going on sale & we didn't manage to get any, boo! Maybe next year, or maybe The Boy can pick some up for us when he goes.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Considering the source

Had an interesting thing happen on Facebook recently. I came across a wall photo that expressed a sentiment with which I agreed strongly enough that I shared the post. For those of you who don't do Facebook, let me say that when you share a post, there's sometimes a link at the bottom of it giving the original source. Well, I had several people respond negatively, but not for the post itself. They felt personally attacked by me having shared it because of the source, & the comments were fast becoming a drama llama melee. I removed it, and re-posted just the saying without any source material. Since then I've gotten quite a few "likes" on it, including from at least one of the people who originally took offense.

This got me to thinking. The best way to come to terms with a person or group with whom you disagree is to find common ground. If you will not "listen" to what is being posted because the original person/group to say it is someone with whom you disagree, how in the world do you expect to resolve your differences? How can you expect them to listen to you if you don't listen to them? And I was amazed at how quickly the topic derailed. The focus was no longer the saying (which had to do with taking away the rights of other people), but instead on the political group which had first posted it. It's no wonder things in this country are such a mess.

But on to other things. The Selfish Knitters & Crocheters are having their second annual "Save Your Fork-There's Pi!" swap. We should be getting assigned partners any day now. I've already ordered a few things for my partner, but I won't say what they are here since my blog is linked to my Ravelry profile & I don't want to ruin the surprise. I've also got some ideas for other items, including the handmade object, and can hardly wait to find out who I will be spoiling so I can prune the ideas list.

Almost time for Faire to be starting up again. We've got a guild meeting tomorrow, and the thought of Faire has me spinning again. Not turning in place, I mean I've pulled out the spinning wheel & finished off some roving. I've also started a new roving--a lovely blue merino/tencel blend that I bought years ago in Virginia--as sort of a test for myself. I've split it pretty evenly in two (1.9 oz per half, according to my postal scale) and am going to ply the two finished threads together. I want to see how close to each other they are in length, which will give me an idea as to how consistently I'm spinning. Also, for reasons I have yet to fathom, I have ordered a new spinning wheel: an Ashford Traveller. It's not here yet, so here's a link if anyone's interested: http://bountifulspinweave.com/images/ashford_dt_traveller.jpg

Today's photos were taken on January 7, a point in time in which our backyard was convinced that spring had arrived. The top photo is a monarch butterfly caterpillar on a milkweed plant that is growing next to the pond; the other is of nectarine blossoms on the tree.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Time for the monthly check-in

Well, the holiday season is almost over. I hope everyone had pleasant days & no family dramas.

I had a good Christmas. Everyone seemed to like what I got them, and dinner was delicious as usual. I received several things on my wishlist including an awesome remote control flying shark. I especially like the pirate flamingo we got from my sister; and the ninja-shaped beeswax candle that we received from our youngest nephews & niece. I suspect that they made it themselves with a little help from their mom. Not as many people as usual at The Boy and The Girl's place, which worked out well since everyone had chairs & it was easier to talk to people without having to shout to be heard over the hubbub. All in all, a very enjoyable day.

As you can tell by the photos, I have finally finished the praying mantis. It's an amazing design, which is not surprising since Hansi Singh is an amazing designer. The eyes were the hardest part, I think. If I make it again, I'll pick up 9 stitches across the face & 6 along the two edges, rather than the 11/5/5 configuration called for in the pattern. I'll also use a lighter green for a more realistic look.

I also finished my tote bag, or as I like to call it my "old lady bag." The colors are wonderfully garish, and it's a lot bigger than I expected it to be. As usually happens, the project came to a stall when I had to sew in the lining & handles. I'm always so excited to get started on a project like this that I forget how very, very much I hate to sew. Perhaps next time I can work out a trade with someone who likes it.

I've been on vacation this week & am enjoying it immensely. Most of it I've spent wasting time on the computer, but I've also done a bit of knitting, some reading, and watching "Mythbusters" on Netflix. I even got some housework done, go figure.

Oh! Almost forgot. Our new neighbors had a housewarming party last month. While we were there, much to my surprise two people from our Faire guild walked in! Imagine that--new neighbors move in, and we end up having friends in common. Small world, eh?

Lastly, I got totally spoiled by my swap partner! Gorgeous sock yarn in fall colors, a pattern book, a Frazz cartoon book, raisin-free trail mix, a crocheted bag shaped like an acorn with a little squirrel charm on it, squirrel stitch markers, a crocheted market bag, needle case with two sets of needles in it, and TONS of dog-poo bags. She wrapped each individual item in its own plastic grocery bag since I'd complained that we can't get those here anymore due to a city ordnance. She really put a lot of time & thought into the package.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Shtuffity shtuff shtuff

Things have been pretty quiet around here, as you can probably tell by my once-a-month posts. Still, holiday season is upon us & perhaps things will liven up.

I am participating in another swap. The theme was WTF Holidays, and the participants were to select a holiday (real or otherwise) to be the starting point for our swap partner ("swapner") when picking/making items. My swapner's holiday was Bunsen Burner Day. Yeesh! I had a hard time finding anything relating to that; I wanted to include a Bunsen Honeydew, however that is one hard-to-find figure. The ones I did find either didn't look much like him, or cost more than the swap price limit. I ended up knitting a hat & fingerless mitts with a blue flame pattern which I think came out really nice, then added things that matched her likes (black tea, dark chocolate, a little scented candle, cinnamon candies, scone mix, 2 skeins each of blue yarn & purple yarn, some kitchen towels in a Fall theme, a puzzle, and a Hex bug. I think that's everything). My upstream swapner hasn't sent her box out yet, however she's already let me know she'll be shipping on the first so I'm not worried about it. Oh--my holiday is ADHLAS Awareness Day. Those of you familiar with the comic strip "Frazz" will recognize that as Attention Defi--Hey, Look, a Squirrel!!

Ralph & I were going to go to Disneyland with friends on Veteran's Day, however one of the friends was ill and the trip was cancelled. Since we had the day off already, we decided to head to Downtown Disney anyway and wander the shops. We didn't buy anything (other than lunch at the Rainforest Cafe) but had a good time window shopping. I especially liked the creative candy apples they were selling; I love the Jack Skellington in particular.

Halloween was fun this year. The party theme was "We're Still Here," since the party was held the day after the world was supposed to end again. Not too many people dressed according to the theme (not even the hosts) but Ralph & I did. Our portrayal of Thurston & Lovey Howell won us Most Humorous for the third year in a row. I thought Ralph looked particularly good, with his natty jacket and drinking glass which he made himself from a real coconut. However, if the host hadn't disqualified himself from the running, I'm sure he would have won all the prizes with his portrayal of Conan the Librarian.

I'm working on several knitting projects at the moment. I still haven't finished the praying mantis I was working on in July, and I've got a tote bag that has been waiting for its handles to be attached for at least a month now. However, I've turned my focus to Christmas knitting so who knows how long those other projects will be sitting. On the other hand, I know someone who would probably like that mantis; if I finish it up I'll have one gift done...

I finally got a chance to make the treacle pudding using golden syrup instead of molasses. It really does have a much different flavor that way. I didn't have much golden syrup left for pouring on each serving, so we've been eating it with agave syrup instead. Not bad, not bad at all. I think it would taste best by making the pudding with molasses and serving it with agave syrup; a nice strong gingerbread-y flavor to the pudding offset by the light sweetness of the agave will work pretty well IMHO. I'll have to give it a try.